Static Roots is an eclectic and up and coming Glasgow band that deserves your undivided attention. Bassist and singer Emma McGarvey is the sole female member of the band, following in the footsteps of her favourite artists like Kim Gordon, Chrissie Hynde and Shirley Manson. Emma sat down with us to discuss what it means to be the only girl in the band, why female and LGBT+ musicians need to be pushed to the forefront and drag queens.
How did you guys first meet and start working together?
We actually all work together, except our drummer Jack who is a mutual friend. Ryan the guitarist and I spent about 6 months talking about music and jamming before our guitar player Pretty Boy suggested starting a band, and Gaz started working with us when we were needing a singer. Everything just fell into place.
How would you describe static roots’ sound to new listeners?
We don’t really have one particular sound, as such. We have a lot of different influences between and that comes across a lot in our songs. For example, I’m into punk and classic rock, whereas Gaz and Jack prefer indie music. We have similarities but, like we all love blues. Although we’ve been together almost a year, we spent so much time rehearsing, and didn’t want to rush into anything. We’ve had a handful of gigs and are finding our place within Glasgow’s music scene, seeing how it goes.
What are your favourite songs to perform live? I like “Poppy”, but that’s just me.
Probably our newest track “Higher,” because it incorporates so many different styles within the song. It changes tempo throughout the song and it’s fun playing funk and heavy rock in the same song. I also like “Girl who Cried Wolf” because I wrote it myself; it’s punk and fast and upbeat.
Who are your personal musical icons, artists that continue to inspire you?
Debbie Harry has always inspired me, since I saw her on the telly as a little girl. I was completely mesmerised by her and still am. Joan Jett too, just for her sheer enthusiasm for the music industry. She kept going when she left the Runaways and couldn’t get signed, and I love her whole attitude. Kathleen Hanna and Bikini Kill too.
One thing I love about musicians like shirley manson and brody dalle is how they promote and encourage other female artists. Why do you think that support is so important?
I think “women in bands” will never be seen too often in the mainstream. I don’t think there are enough and I think it’s important for the successful bands to support young women because it’s still a man’s world, especially in rock music. I was previously in an all-girl band and it was completely different to being the only girl. Before, people automatically doubted us because of our gender, whereas being with all these guys, it’s almost like a gimmick. I think young girls should be able to see female fronted bands, the more the better.
Have you faced sexual discrimination yourself as a musician?
Oh, for sure, especially playing in smaller venues and pubs. It is very satisfying going onstage in front of people doubting you, playing well and have them approach you after to tell you “actually you were really good.” Why did you judge us on our gender beforehand, then? We get a lot of abuse from sound guys too, or audience members shouting “show us your tits!” I definitely don’t shy away from it: turn it into something positive.
Some of rock’s best bands have solo women, like no doubt, blondie, the pretenders to name a few. Do you think there’s power in the image of women being the prominent, assertive force in a group?
I think so. Even if it’s because it still isn’t a picture people often see, a female-fronted band, it’s still a strong and empowering image. But at the same time, there are bands with that very powerful front woman like Garbage or Blondie who are so mesmerising regardless of the fact they’re led by women.
The lgbt+ community in many ways has achieved a lot in the last decade, but there is still a lot to be done to achieve sexual and gender equality. What do you feel is the next step in achieving this?
It’s about changing people’s preconceptions and attitudes towards LGBT people. When it comes to music, at least, I used to hate it in my old band when people would assume we were all gay because it was an all-girl outfit. “They’re punks, they’re loud, they must be lesbians, they must be this and that.” We need to change how people perceive other people. I love Riot Grrrl and everything it stood for, but their message was stuck underground. How do you change people’s minds if you avoid the mainstream?
Who’s your gay icon?
I love Adore Delano from RuPaul’s Drag Race. She’s amazing and I love how she can be a drag queen without being exactly what you would imagine a drag queen to be. And I saw her live and she was incredible!
QUICK FIRE ROUND:
Puppies or kittens? Puppies!
Musical guilty pleasure? Demi lovato – no guilt.
Is it better to whitey tactically on a night out or keep it down? Keep it down.
What’s your karaoke jam? – “Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield
Restaurant birthday shout-outs: yay or nay? Nay.
Complete this phrase: Ivyyyyyyy… winteeeeeers!
Pubs or clubs? Pubs.
Who was your teenage celebrity crush? Debbie Harry
Would you rather have chewbacca-style fur or lizard-like scales? Chewbacca fur
Favourite scottish person, real or fictional? Shirley manson